James Brown

Silhouette of man in a frame with golden crossed sabers and a 10 and I.

NPS/ K. Pontius & E. Grover

Quick Facts

James Brown was born in Culpeper County, Virginia around 1845. As far as we can tell, he did not serve during the Civil War, but he was old enough that he could have. By the middle of his tenure in the Army, in the 1880s, Brown was stationed in Bonita Canyon, Arizona, during the Geronimo Campaign. While in Bonita Canyon, Brown may have added his initials to a stone in the Garfield Monument, which men in the 10th Cavalry created to honor President James Garfield.

Troop I, of which Brown was a First Sergeant, replaced Troops E and H at Camp Bonita, and added one stone with many men's initials on it to the monument. The stone has Troop I, 10, various initials (including possibly Brown's), and three linked ovals engraved into it. The linked ovals are a symbol of the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows, a black fraternal order. Brown held the ranks of Sergeant and First Sergeant during his long military career, which was cut short when he froze to death between Havre and Fort Assinniboine, Montana.

Brown's gravestone has the Freemason symbol on it, indicating that he, like many other black soldiers, was a member of a Prince Hall Masonic Lodge. One of the first black military masonic lodges was established near Fort Davis, Texas, in 1883 and was called the Baldwin Lodge, likely after Troop I's commander, Captain Theodore Baldwin. Since it was a military lodge, its location moved with the soldiers, and in 1887 Baldwin Lodge #16 was at Fort Verde, AZ, and in 1889 it moved to Fort Apache, AZ. 

Based on his military records, Brown was stationed in: 

Washington, D.C., 1867 (10th Cavalry, Troop J)
Ft. Sill, OK 1872 (10th Cavalry, Troop I)
Ft. Richardson, TX 1877
Camp near Presidio, TX 1882
Ft. Bowie, AZ 1885
Ft. Verde, AZ 1887
Ft. Leavenworth, KS 1892

Almost nothing is known about Brown’s personal life, and until we find out more, this biography and others like it will be incomplete and imbalanced. From his military records, it appears his widow (name unknown) filed for his pension after his death. Please contact us if you would like to share information about Brown.

Chiricahua National Monument, Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument

Last updated: February 7, 2019